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A Little History of Military Boots

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Military boots are boots intended for law-and-order forces (the army, guarding, security, intervention).
Basically, military boots are worn by soldiers during training, during missions, or during military celebrations.
Modern military boots have a special design and are conceived so as to provide a good grip to the ground, stability for the ankle, foot protection, even in the harshest conditions. Traditionally, the materials they use are chunks of hardened skin, treated to be waterproof.
Nowadays military boots are made with innovative materials such as Gore-Tex, significantly improving material comfort.
Among the models of army boots we find the following, depending on the specific climate and missions:


hobnail-bootsThe first army which was equipped with special footwear were the Roman legions. It was calledcaligae and were a kind of sandals, but at the time they offered a great comfort to soldiers.

During the English Civil War each soldier from the “New Model Army was equipped with three pairs of boots called ankle boots. One wonders why three and not one or two. After each march they had to switch their pairs so as to wear all three evenly.
Later in the Napoleonian Wars, the British army was equipped with lace boots, an innovative model for that time. It was accustomed and stayed in use until the 19th century, in conflicts such as the war in the Crimea, the Zulu War, and the Boer War.
ammunition-bootsUntil the beginning of World War I, the model of boots was replaced by what used to be called “George Boots, then by the “Ammunition Boots, a model which was used since the beginning of the second World War until the late 1950s.
From 1820 until the American Civil War, soldiers were equipped with the model of boots called ankle high boots. A pair of boots from this model was not composed of the right and left boot, but rather the each boot was taking the shape of the soldier’s foot while wearing it over long time. Obviously, the level of discomfort created by this model was quite large, so this model of military boots was replaced in 1858 with an upgraded version, which was used until the 1980s. This new model was called Jeff David Boots.

The history of timekeeping

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The earliest dated watch known, from 1530

The earliest dated watch known, from 1530

It is believed that the clock, as it is known today, was invented in 1300, but there is no exact date for that. Knowledge of time measuring instruments existed since ancient times. Ancient civilizations measured time depending on the movement of the Earth and the Moon: the year and month after its revolution around the Sun (within 365 days), and the cycle of the day-after Earth’s rotation around its axis (in 23 hours, 56 minutes, 4 seconds). Since 3500 B.C. Egyptians built the solar clock, the Obelisk. The hours were determined by the shadow it dropped on Earth from sunlight. This helped them to know what time of day it was. Over the time, sundials evolved to more elaborate forms.

Another primitive model of measuring time is the hourglass. That is a vase of glass with 2 compartments. The top has a quantity of sand, water or mercury that flows into the bottom compartment in a certain period of time. The hourglass was used in Europe in the 14th century, when some historians appreciate that personalities of that time acquired the first clocks in their homes.

In fact, history records that, ever since the year 1280, a clock with wheels was invented in England. Such mechanisms functioned in monasteries and cathedrals of the time. However, the first public clock was made and elevated in Milan, Italy, in 1335. People did not have clocks in their homes until the 14th century.

Another important date in the evolution of horologes is 1427, when Heinrich Arnold invented a number of components necessary for the proper functioning of an evolved clock, including the arc, which is especially utilized nowadays.

In 1500 a German locksmith named Peter Henlein began making watches that were small and only had one hand for the hour, and not a minute hand, and did not have glass protection. These watches were the size of a hockey puck and were carried in hand or in the pocket. The minutes indicating hand was invented in the year 1577, by Jost Burgi.

The first swing clock was produced by the Dutch scientist Christian Huygens, in the year 1657 (some historians believe it was the year 1656), which had an error of less than one minute per day, which was a great achievement for that time. The error in time measurement was brought to the stunning result of a second per day, by George Graham, in the year 1721, who improved the accuracy of the pendulum, by offsetting changes caused by temperature variations.

In the year 1775, Abraham-Louis Bregeut set shop in Paris and became horologer to the Kings, having a keen

Portable drum watch with sundial.

Portable drum watch with sundial.

sense for business. He fused formerly used clock elements together, and invented a large number of his own, one of the chief ones being the tourbillon, an anti-shock device for the balance mechanism.

Today, the time industry is going through an unprecedented boom, each year adding to the number of those attracted to the mechanisms that work with an accuracy to the nearest thousandth of a second. And the fans for whom the clock has become the symbol of “good life” see the tourism to factories and themed museums as an expedition into a world of stories with artisans, mechanisms, hundreds of hours of work, precious gems, real Princes and Princesses.

The main groups have announced significant increases in their turnover. Swatch reported that for the first time in its history it surpassed the threshold of five billion francs (three billion euros), while Richemont announced sales of 4.3 billion euros. But, beneath all the growth reports, beyond the hordes of Asians craving after Swiss watches and after a brand’s image, there hides a world that fascinates even before meeting it, and persists in mind after you’ve met it.

As opposed to times before, when one watch accompanied a person for their whole life, today there are watches for all needs and purposes, from thrifty and disposable to the really well crafted and expensive. To name a few categories, there are Luxury watches and diamond watches which are more jewels that show off the elevated status of their wearer; then there are the Business and Casual watches, also ranging from affordable to expensive; then the so-called Sports watches, which themselves cover a whole range of sub-categories: there are the Military watches (here’s a page on the Best tactical watch of the moment), the Aviator watches, the Diver watches, the Running watches (with heart rate sensor), etc. Have a look at these pages for the best aviator watch and the best divers watch. Not least, the most striking distinction in modern times is between mechanical watches and digital or quartz ones. With all this industry pounding out millions of timepieces a year, the fascination with intricate and high performance mechanisms has not disappeared, quite the opposite.

Back to our Swiss watch making tour, the tourist armed with a travel guide and a “Swiss Made” watch should know that the Swiss watch industry is concentrated in the western part of the country, in the interior of the arch formed by the Jura Mountains, between Geneva and Basel. The Swiss promote this area under the brand of “Watch Valley” and have designed special programmes for the tourists who are fans of mechanisms and manufactures.

The point of departure is in Geneva, where watch manufactures appeared for the first time in the mid 16th century. After a brief tour in the old city center, dominated by the Cathedral of St. Pierre, where John Calvin preached, and by Ile Rousseau, a small island on the River Rhône, where there is a statue of Jean-Jacques Rousseau, a visit to the watchmaking Museum means more than watching some simple exhibits. Because here the mysterious links between the characters of Swiss history and clocks are elucidated.

Visiting the Museum, one discovers that the emergence of watch manufactures is due to the reforms of John Calvin who denied jewels, forcing jewelers to turn to the new trade of watchmaker. Calvin was over-obsessed with punctuality and in 1541 he decreed fines for those who were late for the Sunday service. In 1561 clocks were installed in strategic points in Geneva, so that there were no excuses for delays.

By the end of the 16th century, Swiss manufacturers were already famous for the quality of their devices. The industry received an important boost in 1685, when Louis XIV restricted rights to the French Protestant. Thus, they left the country by the thousands and settled in the city of Geneva, bringing with them the know-how of watch production. As a matter of fact, one of the most famous family of watchmakers in Geneva was that of philosopher Jean-Jacques Rousseau.

Moreover, one of the most spectacular pieces in the Museum is a watch that had belonged to the grandfather of Jean-Jacques Rousseau, in the form of a dead head which opened in half to reveal the clock.

A bit on the history of the backpack

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Middle Ages basket carried on the back

The backpack is a type of bag that may be carried on the back by two straps that pass over the shoulders. The person wearing a backpack is usually called a backpacker.

The use of backpacks is often preferred in the place of bags to carry heavy loads over long periods of time, because the shoulders can bear loads better than the hands. Larger backpacks convey most weight to a belt surrounding the hips, leaving the shoulder straps with only the function to stabilize the load. This allows to carry heavy loads because the hips are even stronger than the shoulders and improves agility and balance because the burden lies near the center of the body’s mass. In addition, this allows to relief the backbone of the load that can damage it.

The backpack has its origin in prehistory, when the man needed to transport his belongings on his back. Over time this item evolved from the need to carry more and heavier objects. The wars have been large driving forces behind its development, both in design and materials.


Ancient backpack

There are different models of backpacks, depending on the specific objective: climbing (here’s on the climbing essentials), hiking (here’s on the best daypack for hiking), travel, military and carrier, to name a few. There are also the so-called hydration backpacks, which are specially manufactured to carry a water container. These have a hose that goes over the shoulder; so, the carrier of the backpack can hydrate easily.

Classification and characteristics

If classified by their function, backpacks can be divided into three main groups:

  • Up to 40 liters: these are used for activities of one day or to attack.
  • 40 to 65 litres: their most common use is for activities that will involve a night out, where it is necessary to bring sleeping bag, tent, stove, etc.
  • Over 65 litres: this type of backpack is used for several days or activities or for logístics.

Manufacturing materials

Cordura, a derivative of polyamide, is the most common material used today for the construction of backpacks/rucksacks, since it has excellent low weight and resistance to abrasion and tear. The most recommended thicknesses range from 500 to 1000 denier.

Through coating with polyurethane, waterproofing of the backpack is achieved, though the seams will always be the favorite waterways to make forays into clothes, sleeping bag and other things that we carry inside. Some light, large and medium capacity backpacks use fabrics such as Kevlar, a fiberglass with great abrasion resistance, for their construction.

School backpacks

School backpack

School backpack

Currently, backpacks have replaced the classic school bags in the transportation of books by children. The backpacks are used to carry to school both the textbooks and notebooks, and also other school supplies: boxes, pens, markers, etc. They also serve to carry lunch and other elements such as robes, clothing for gymnastics, sports, etc.

Backpacks are considered a better option than school bags since they allow to evenly distribute weight on the back of the child. It is recommended for them to have symmetric shoulder straps adjustable to fit the height of the child. Both the straps and the part of the pack that rests on the back must be padded to prevent damage to the body of the carrier. The backpack should always be lifted a few inches above the waist of the child. We should likewise avoid adopting forced positions that could cause muscular injuries. The problems that today’s children suffer from are caused by the misplacement of the backpacks and the excessive weight that schools require them to transport every day.

Mountain, hiking and sea backpack

Mountain backpack

Mountain backpack

These bags or backpacks are those that exceed the capacity of 40 litres and are made of durable material, polyamide. These backpacks are made up of several parts:

  • The backpack body: most backpacks consist of one main compartment closed with zippers, but this can also be divided into two compartments. To the sides of the body there usually are pockets.
  • Lid: this “cap” is located on the top of the body of the bag and covers the opening of the body, has a pocket at the top and sometimes another on the inside.
  • Frame: the most important part. It consists of a coating of foam that protects the back from the rigid structures holding the backpack, a pair of shoulder straps which stabilize the backpack and stick it to the back, and a belt with padding to close above the waist that supports the weight.

Some incorporate solar panels, and are called in this case solar backpacks.